BREAKING: Pentagon to certify DADT repeal

Secretary Panetta

Reports are coming in from sources including the Wall Street Journal and Fox News that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen are going to announce Friday that they are ready to certify repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Once they have signed off on repeal, the measure goes to President BarackObama for his signature, and he will send it back to Congress. Then there is a 60-day waiting period before repeal is officially implemented.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, issued a statement shortly after 6 p.m. Central time today saying the Pentagon’s certification of repeal is “is welcomed by gay and lesbian service members who have had to serve their country in silence for far too long.”

Sarvis added: “The troops and their commanders are ready. Our nation’s top military leaders have testified that commanders see no significant challenges ahead. The official certification to Congress that the armed forces are prepared for the end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’  should go to Capitol Hill tomorrow with the President’s signature.”

But Sarvis also warned closeted servicemembers that it’s not safe to come out yet. SLDN has posted a warning to lesbian and gay servicemembers here. He also advised LGBT servicemembers with questions to call the SLDN hotline at 202-328-3244, ext. 100, to speak to a staff attorney.

—  admin

DADT could stay in effect through May, despite repeal

Active duty servicemember, vets say few among the rank and file care whether someone is gay, but repeal will lift the burden of secrecy

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Even though the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was repealed in December, remains in place until military are able to decide how best to implement repeal and what benefits will be offered to spouses of gay and lesbian military personnel.

Defense Undersecretary Clifford Stanley and Gen. James Cartwright held a press conference Friday, Jan, 28, at the Pentagon to give the first report on progress toward implementation, offering only a hint of an actual schedule. They said then that training is set to begin in February and should take three months.

Under those conditions, DADT will remain in effect at least until May, and gay and lesbians servicemembers can still be discharged under the policy.

In January, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued the report Military Personnel: Personnel and Cost Data Associated with Implementing DOD’s Homosexual Conduct Policy evaluating the cost DADT has had on the military.

Over the past five years 3,664 people have been discharged under DADT at an average cost of $52,800 per dismissal.

Jeffrey S., an airman first class based at Beale Air Force Base in Northern California, said that from his experience, recent discharges under DADT involved people the armed forces were trying to get rid of for other reasons as well.

(Because DADT is still in effect and, according to Stanley, new cases continue to be processed under the law, the airman’s name and the names of over gay servicemembers interviewed for this article have been disguised to the extent he requested.)

Jeffrey said that since graduating from basic training, he has lived fairly openly in the Air Force. The GAO report shows, however, that almost three-quarters of all DADT discharges were from the Army and Navy.

Jeffrey also said that he was trained for specific technical duties and would be hard to replace. But that hasn’t stopped discharges from other branches where service members were pursued despite their language specialties and other skills. The report indicates that of the total number of people dismissed under DADT over the past five years, 39 percent had critical occupations.

The statistics do indicate that many who were separated from the service had additional issues. Only 57 percent of those released during that period received an honorable discharge.

The other 1,580 service members were given a general discharge or worse, indicating additional situations, whether real or trumped up.

Sean T. was recently honorably discharged from the Army after serving five years, including two tours of duty in Iraq. He had been based at Fort Hood in Texas during part of his enlistment. But after not finding a civilian job, Sean is trying to reenlist and is currently in the Army Reserves.

He said his sexual orientation is more of an issue in the Reserves than in his Army unit. He knew a number of other gay soldiers while serving and no one he knew personally were discharged under DADT.

“There were usually other reasons,” he said of those he had heard were discharged under DADT. “Patterns of misconduct.”

In his Jan. 25 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama said, “Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love.”

At the press conference Cartwright said that they learned from the experience of other military organizations that began allowing gays and lesbians to serve, faster integration was better.

Jeffrey said he has seen little opposition among enlisted personnel. But, he said, one person in his unit did not re-enlist because of the DADT repeal. Others, though, simply didn’t care, Jeffrey said.

Sean said that he felt the least amount of pressure from DADT while in Iraq.

“It wasn’t an issue because you deploy with people you’ve known for a long time,” he said. “It’s more like family.”

Before the repeal is implemented, Cartwright said, most troops will have to complete a training session.

Jeffrey said his understanding was that the training would be a sort of sensitivity class. While attitudes couldn’t be changed during a short session, Jeffrey said he expects the sessions to enumerate forms of inappropriate speech.

Service members are written up for using racial epithets, for example, and Jeffrey said he assumes the same would happen after the repeal is in effect.

But while attitudes might not change, respect between service members could be expected and required.

The vote on the repeal was delayed more than six months in the Senate while the military studied a variety of related issues, including spousal benefits. Studies delayed implementation again after the repeal was signed.

But Stanley announced that no partner benefits would be offered, citing the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples.

Sean, who has a partner, wants to re-enlist despite the lack of benefits and recognition of his partner.

“They’ll come eventually,” he said.

Among military personnel, the most vocal opposition to repeal of DADT was among the chaplain corps. Cartwright said no changes in rules would apply to chaplains.

Jeffrey said that he believed most military chaplains would be professional enough to refer someone that they couldn’t help to someone else. He said it was unthinkable, however, for a chaplain to turn someone away because of that person’s race or religion, and he believes a chaplain who couldn’t be professional with gay and lesbian service members might not belong in the military.

“They should be required to serve everybody,” Jeffrey said.

In an odd twist of the regulations, the decision to not change any rules for the chaplains might require them to do just that.

As bad as DADT has been for some, several retired military personnel said the previous policy was worse.

“I was paranoid about a dishonorable discharge,” said Jim from Phoenix, a gay veteran who was stationed at Fort Bragg. He was honorably discharged in Jan. 1990, three years before DADT was adopted.

While serving, he said he had one member of his unit that was quite flamboyant.

“Everybody liked the guy,” he said. “It’s more of a problem with politicians and with the higher ups.”

But those who weren’t liked were referred for dishonorable discharge for lying on their service applications.

Bill Royal, another veteran, said, “Most people on active duty don’t care.”

He said he believes the military brass disliked the change because it was one less way they could control those under them.

But even Jeffrey, who said he has had little problem with people around him knowing his sexual orientation, said the repeal would be a big relief.

“The threat of losing my job will be gone,” he said. “If somebody asks, I can say I’m gay. I can be myself. I don’t have to worry about keeping things secret. Integrity is a core value and I don’t like having to lie.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Transgender ban remains in place in U.S. military

WILL IT HAPPEN? | Trans veteran Maeve O’Connor of Dallas, left, thinks that lifting the ban on open military service by transgender people will be tricky, but it is doable. But Mickie Garrison, left, another local trans veteran, says she doesn’t believe it will happen “for another 50 to 100 years.”

Seeing the ban on open lesbians and gays in the military lifted is a bittersweet victory of transgenders, who still can’t serve openly

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

As lesbian and gay servicemembers and military veterans are celebrating the repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — despite delays in implementing the repeal — transgender servicemembers and veterans once again find themselves left behind in the battle for equality.

Because repealing DADT did not end the ban on service by trans people.

“The military still puts trans people in the same medical category as pedophilia. They consider it [transgenderism] to be a medical disorder,” said Monica Helms, president and co-founder of Transgender American Veterans Association.

“Trans people still have to be deep in the closet. They can’t talk to anyone about their lives, or they risk being discharged and getting something other than an honorable discharge,” Helms added. “Because the kind of discharge you get can make a huge difference in what kind of benefits you can get.”

Helms said that there is one way in which DADT repeal will affect trans servicemembers: Now the military will have to find a different reason for discharging trans people.

“A lot of times, trans people were discharged under DADT because the military isn’t smart enough to know the difference between gender identity/gender expression and sexual orientation. They think if a man wears a dress, he must be gay.”

MAKE IT WORK | Monica Helms, president and co-founder of Transgender American Veterans Association, says lifting the ban on open military service by transgender people shouldn’t be that difficult. After all, eight of the U.S.’s allies have already done it, including Canada. (Photo courtesy TAVA)

Other trans servicemembers were discharged for “medical reasons,” others were discharged as “undesirables,” Helms said. “I guess they will go back to doing those things when they can’t use DADT anymore.”

Even those people who transition after leaving the military still face discrimination from the Veterans Administration, Helm said.

Helms, who served as a submariner in the Navy for eight years in the 1970s, said conservative estimates put the number of transgender veterans at roughly 300,000 people.

“We figure trans people are about 1 percent of the population. That’s counting everyone under the transgender umbrella, and it’s a rough estimate,” Helms said. “And the percentage of trans people in the military veteran population is about the same.”

So, with about 26 million veterans and another 1.5 million active-duty servicemembers, more or less, do the math and you come up with about 280,000 transgender veterans. Helms said TAVA rounds that up to about 300,000, based on statistics from the VA and personal experience.

“If we are at an event for trans people, when we ask the veterans to stand up, there are a whole lot of people that stand up, so we figure that rounding up the numbers is accurate,” she said.

When a trans veteran tries to access the benefits they earned with their service, particularly medical benefits, the results are mixed, Helms said.

“Some places, they are treated fairly well; some places they are treated very badly,” she said. “The benefits don’t cover any of the [transitional] surgeries at all. But we have heard stories of trans vets being turned down for even the most basic medical services that they are entitled to.

“The doctors misgender them on purpose, they refuse to change names in the database, they call them names,” Helms continued. “Doctors, nurses, other patients — we have heard stories about trans veterans being mistreated by all of them.”

Helms said she has never encountered such problems because she has never had to use any of the VA’s medical services.

“I used the education benefits, and I got a VA loan to buy my house. But I always had decent jobs and had private insurance through my employers, so I’ve never had to use the medical benefits. So my trans status was never an issue,” she said.

Maeve O’Connor, a trans veteran from Dallas, spent 4 ½ years on active duty in the Navy, and another 4 ½ years in the Navy Reserves. Like Helms, O’Connor didn’t begin to transition until after she had left the military, and like Helms, she has never had to access VA medical benefits.

But O’Connor recently reached the point of having her name and gender markers officially changed on legal documents, like her birth certificate, and she said she is unsure what will happen when she contacts the VA to have her name and gender markers corrected on her military records.

“Now that it’s official, I do need to go in and get those records changed. I don’t know what will happen when I do. I’ve not had any experience with the VA as a transgender person, so I don’t know how difficult it will be to deal with them,” O’Connor said.

For Micki Garrison, another local transgender veteran, the specter of wrangling with a hostile VA bureaucracy made it not worth the effort of even trying to access VA benefits.

Garrison said she had graduated high school and finished a semester of college when the expense of a college education became too big a burden. So she joined the Army and finished a three-year enlistment so she could get the educational benefits offered to veterans.

But like Helms and O’Connor, that military service happened long before she began her transition, although she — also like Helms and O’Connor — was already beginning to struggle with her gender identity when she enlisted.

“I just ran out of patience with the bureaucracy. I just can’t deal with it anymore. I have other battles to fight, so I will leave that battle for other people to fight,” Garrison said. “If it was just, ‘Yeah, you are trans, but you are also a veteran, so we will help you out,’ that would be one thing. But all that frustration with the bureaucracy makes it just not worth it to bother.”

Besides, Garrison said, “many of the benefits they offer didn’t turn out to that big of a benefit anyway.”

Ending the trans ban

Garrison said that while she and other transgender veterans she knows are happy on behalf of lesbian and gay veterans and servicemembers to see DADT repealed, for transgenders, it was a bittersweet victory at best.

“We are really happy for the gay and lesbian servicemembers, sure. But at the same time, it’s like getting up on Christmas morning and seeing presents under the tree for everybody but you,” Garrison said. “I don’t want to sound like sour grapes. But while other people now get the chance to live their lives openly and with dignity and respect, trans people are left empty-handed again.”

But as much as she would like to see the ban on transgenders in the military ended, Garrison isn’t at all optimistic about that actually happening.

“I’d say we are at least 50 to 100 years away from that,” she said. “Opponents would be so very adamantly against it, I don’t think there’s even a snowball’s chance in hell that it’s even a battle worth fighting right now.

“That’s very, very sad. But it’s hard for me to come to a place where I could even believe that kind of change is possible. I mean, we are still trying to get procedures in place where we can get a driver’s license or fly on a plane without hassles.”

Garrison noted that most people enlisting in the military are young — just out of high school, or college-aged. Trans people at that age are many times just beginning to fight their own internal battles over their gender identity, she said.

“How could I have been openly trans at that point in my life? I wasn’t able to deal with it [my gender identity], how can I expect the military to deal with it?” Garrison said.

She pointed out that there are different stages to transitioning, and said those stages would cause ongoing problems in the strict military environment. Things like housing and combat status could prove uncomfortable, at least, for both the trans servicemember and their fellow soldiers.

“We bring a lot of hard questions to the table, especially during that time of transition — and that can be a long time,” Garrison said. “It’s very sad, I think. As much as I wish there would be inclusion, but the complexity level of transitioning is such a personal thing. A lot of people have to pull out of mainstream life to get that worked out and then re-integrate. I think until we have an ‘in-between’ state in our culture, until it’s not just either-or genders, I don’t think there will be good answers to the military situation.”

O’Connor acknowledged that the situation is “tricky.” But, she added, “It’s not un-overcomable.”

She said, “I think if you can do the job and live up to the goals and ideas of the military, then it shouldn’t be an issue. But it is definitely a complicated situation. There’s a lot involved. When you are a transsexual, you are transitioning in some way, and if you are transitioning, say, from male to female going into the military, then the military has to be willing to treat you like any other woman in the military.”

But, O’Connor added, transgender people joining the military would have to be willing to make some concessions, too.

“Yes, everyone should be able to serve. But the military is all about discipline, and everything is very cut and dried. And transgender people joining the military have to be willing to accept that discipline, just as a matter of security,” O’Connor said. “When you join the military, you join knowing that you are giving up some of your constitutional freedoms to a certain extent. The Code of Military Justice is stricter than civilian law, and the reason for that is safety. You have to follow that chain of command.”

But for Helms, the issue simply isn’t that complicated at all.

“We are not inventing the wheel here,” Helms said. “Eight of our ally countries already allow trans people to serve openly to different degrees, including our ally to the north, Canada, which has let trans people serve openly since 1998.

“I know a trans woman in Canada who has served for 28 years. She transitioned in the military, and they paid for everything. It’s just not a big deal there,” Helms continued. “The U.K., Israel, Australia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Spain — there are different levels of service and different policies dealing with it in different places, but come on. They all let trans people serve openly in the military.

“But our country is backward,” Helms said. “In our country, they think everything is a problem. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Just let the people who want to serve, serve openly and with integrity. That’s all it takes.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

John Cornyn calls DADT repeal ‘a disgrace’

John Cornyn, shown wearing his favorite hat, is a disgrace to Texas.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn thinks it’s a disgrace that gay servicemembers will no longer have to lie about who they are. Cornyn, perhaps best known to the LGBT community for equating us to “box turtles,” further cemented his legacy as an anti-gay bigot when he twice voted against repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” today — then released the below statement calling the measure’s passage “a disgrace.” If there was ever any doubt that Cornyn was blatantly pandering when he accepted an award from Log Cabin Republicans earlier this year, it was thoroughly erased today. This man is not, nor will he ever be, our friend. Here’s his statement:

“With three of the four military service chiefs expressing clear reservations over the proposed repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, today’s vote shows blatant disregard for the opinions of those who know our military best. With our troops engaged in combat overseas, now is not the time to increase the level of stress on our Armed Forces through such a dramatic policy change. It is a disgrace that this latest item from the liberal legislative wish-list is being jammed through at the expense of military readiness.”

For the record, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison also twice voted against DADT repeal today. Here’s her statement:

“After speaking with military personnel and former leaders of our armed services, I remain very concerned about how repealing this policy could negatively impact unit cohesion and overall troop readiness – especially during a time of war. Therefore, I did not support a repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.”

—  John Wright

Early voting begins today for midterm elections, with plenty at stake for the LGBT community

Many LGBT advocates and activists were thrilled two years ago when Barack Obama — a man who said he supported legal federal recognition of same-sex civil unions, passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” and who pledged to be a “fierce advocate” for the LGBT community — was elected president.

Since President Obama was taking office at a time when the Democratic Party — which tends to be, overall, more progressive on LGBT issues — controlled both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, LGBT advocates were looking forward to seeing big progress very quickly. And in fact, Obama has included a number of LGBT and LGBT-supportive individiuals in his administration. He did issue an executive order that granted partner benefits to LGBT federal employees. He did sign into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Law (one of the top priority issues on the LGBT community’s list for several years).

But many of those same activists who were so tickled to see Obama elected have begun losing faith that the president has a real commitment to LGBT equality. ENDA continues to languish. Repeal of DADT went down in flames in the Senate and lesbian and gay servicemembers continue to be discharged. And the Department of Justice, under the Obama administration, has continued to appeal court rulings favorable to the LGBT community on issues like DADT and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Perhaps, many feel, the “fierce advocate” isn’t so fiercely on our side, after all. And yet, would a Republican-controlled Congress make it any easier to get our issues fairly addressed? Democrats warn that not only would we make no further progress with the Republicans in charge, we might also lose some of advances we have made so far.

However you feel about it, the midterm elections next month will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the future of efforts like passage of ENDA and DADT. Many pundits expect the Republicans to win control of at least the House of Representatives, if not both the House AND the Senate.

And that’s not even taking into account the importance of races from the county level on up to the state level, where Republican incumbent Rick Perry is fighting a hard battle against Democratic challenger Bill White in the race for Texas governor. And what about the Texas Legislature? Will the LGBT community have enough allies there to pass a safe schools bill that would address anti-gay bullying, or to at least fend off recurring efforts to keep same-sex couples from adopting or being foster parents?

Those are just a few of the races that will be determined in this election, and all of them impact our community in some way. And your vote can make the difference when it comes to who will represent you in county, state and federal government.

Election Day isn’t until Nov. 2. But early voting starts today. Dallas Morning News reported today that Dallas County residents appear to be voting at a higher pace than the last midterm elections four years ago, and that Dallas County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet is predicting an overall turnout of about 40 percent this year.

So why not go on and vote now and avoid the Election Day rush?

Do you need to know where to go to early vote? Are you wondering which precinct or district you are in? Do you know if your voter’s registration is still valid? There are online sites that can help.

If you live in Dallas County, go here for information on early voting sites and hours and for information about who represents you, specifically, at the county, state and federal levels. That same information is available for Tarrant County residents here. The state of Texas also has a site with information for voters, and you can find it here.

And if you don’t live in Dallas or Tarrant counties, just do a search online for your county’s elections site.

Remember, our government is supposed to be “of the people, by the people and for the people.” But if you want your voice to count, then you have to vote.

—  admin

Reid sets DADT vote

Unless measure passes before November elections, Republican gains could mean an end to repeal possibilities for the time being

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service lisakeen@me.com

Pop star Lady Gaga attended the VMAs on Sunday night
MAKING A POINT | Pop star Lady Gaga attended the VMAs on Sunday night, Sept. 12, with three former servicemembers who were discharged under DADT and a former West Point cadet who resigned from the academy to protest the anti-gay policy. (Matt Sayles/Associated Press)

A Senate Democratic leadership aide said Monday, Sept. 13, that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would bring the defense spending bill with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal measure to the floor next week.

Reid himself confirmed the decision in a post on Twitter, in response to a call by pop star Lady Gaga following MTV’s Video Music Awards on Sunday night, Sept. 12.

Gaga attended the awards show with three LGBT former servicemembers who were discharged under DADT and a former West Point cadet who left the academy in protest over the policy.

The four were U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Hall, former U.S. Air Force Major Mike Almy, former U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Stacy Vasquez and former West Point cadet Katie Miller, all members of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

The pop star then spoke about the importance of repealing DADT during an interview with Ellen DeGeneres after the VMAs.

The following day, Gaga sent a Tweet to all her followers urging them to contact Reid and urge him to schedule a Senate vote on repeal. Reid responded with a Tweet saying the vote had been scheduled for this coming week.

The decision — if it sticks — is an important step forward for activists hoping to repeal the federal law that bans openly gay servicemembers from the military.

Many political observers are predicting that Republicans could take over the majority in the Senate and/or House at the mid-term elections. Such a development would almost certainly kill any chance of repeal for DADT during President Barack Obama’s first term.

The DADT repeal language was attached to the annual bill that authorizes Department of Defense spending. The language calls for repeal of the military’s ban on gay servicemembers to begin after the Secretary of Defense receives an “implementation report” he has asked for, due Dec. 1, and after the president, defense secretary and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff have signed a statement certifying that they have considered whatever recommendations are made in the report, prepared the necessary regulations to accompany repeal, and certified that repeal is “consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.”

Fiscal year 2011 begins Oct. 1. With the congressional clock ticking down the last days of fiscal year 2010, the pressure is on to finish off remaining budget bills authorizing spending and appropriating FY 2011 monies.

If Congress fails to settle its budget bills by the end of FY 2010, it has the option of passing “continuing resolutions” — bills that simply set the next year’s fiscal budget at the same levels as the current year.

According to the New York Times, the Senate typically spends about two weeks on the defense spending bill. Last year’s defense authorization bill was passed by the Senate in July, but it took lawmakers more than two months to resolve differences between the Senate and House versions.

So, there is no certainty that DADT will, in fact, come up during the first week or that it will even get a vote before FY 2010 runs out.

Meanwhile, when the defense authorization bill does come to the floor and the Senate begins debate on the language seeking to repeal DADT, the debate is expected to be vigorous, at least from opponents.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and other Republicans have made clear they are steadfastly against repeal. The question is whether Democrats believe support for repeal could lose them votes during the mid-term elections, and potentially control of Congress.

© 2010 Keen News Service

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

DADT is the danger to the military, not LGBT soldiers

Policy forces lesbian and gay servicemembers to keep secrets, and keeping secrets is what makes them vulnerable, puts them at risk

David E. Cozad
David E. Cozad

Gays and lesbians serving in the United States military are a threat to national security. But only if they’re subject to the indignity of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

I served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps during the early to mid-1970s. Having had this experience, I can tell you that I’d be very concerned if a Marine under my command felt the need to conceal a major aspect of their life from the rest.

Keeping one secret leads to the need to keep others, and that is a security problem no officer wants to face.

The British learned a hard lesson in this area half a century ago, when gay members of the civil service were blackmailed by Soviet agents. More recently, one of our own soldiers, apparently facing discrimination over his sexuality among other issues, chose to release a quarter-million State Department documents to Wikileaks.

Part of the fallout from this includes the outing of hundreds of Afghans who’ve rendered assistance to our efforts there. These men are as good as dead and an already tough environment will be even more dangerous for our people.

While this is the most dramatic event in this area, the constant grind of losing good people is an equally serious problem. We spend $300 million annually to replace those we discharge due to DADT, and there are other costs our troops should not be made to bear.

The straight lieutenant in charge of a convoy in Afghanistan didn’t even know the ambush his unit faced could have been avoided if we’d not discharged a gay linguist the previous month. He’ll write the letter to the mother of the soldier who died in that ambush, unaware that the lesbian nurse discharged the week before had the skills to save the man, a tuition that had been paid not with dollars, but with the blood of those she’d cared for previously.

Our nation faces many, many complex problems. Gay troops are not one of them.

Gay men have quietly served our nation since that first shot at the Old North Bridge in Concord, and it’s time we treat the LGBT men and women in our armed forces with the same respect we accord everyone else — both when they are in uniform, and after their honorable discharge at the end of their service.

David E. Cozad is the Democratic candidate for the District 6 seat in Congress. He is challenging incumbent Republican Joe Barton.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 6, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas